Structuralism, contextualism, dialogism
Volo.Inov’s and Baxtin’s contributions to the debate about the ‘relativity’ of meaning
In the 1930s lexical semantics came under the influence of Saussurean structuralism and Gestalt psychology. The study of whole lexical fields and the structure of these fields replaced a historical semantics focusing on single words and the classification of the transitions between the meanings of these words over time according to different sets of criteria. At the same time contextualism, the study of meaning in its pragmatic context of language use, began to attract the attention of linguists, philosophers, and psychologists of language. Fully aware of the emergence of structuralism and contextualism, Volo‰inov and Baxtin began to develop their theories of meaning, society and literature, later called dialogism. All three movements dealt with the relativity of meaning, as relativity in a semantic field, as relativity in social context, and as relativity in social interaction and dialogue. This article demonstrates how, in a sometimes hidden dialogue with their Western contemporaries, Valentin Nikolaeviã Volo‰inov (1895–1936) and Mixail Mixajloviã Baxtin (1895–1975) developed new ‘relativistic’ theories of meaning, novel theories of pragmatics (speech acts), and modern theories of verbal interaction.
Published online: 29 May 2000
Cited by 3 other publications
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Bakhtin [Baxtin], Mikhael [Mixail] M[ixajloviã]
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